Saturday, January 31, 2009

Movie Journal: Shaun Of The Dead

Isn't it so often that a genre or category spoof seems to simply be making fun of itself? As great as Monty Python and the Holy Grail is, it's hard to shake the feeling that it's simply repeatedly mocking whatever it's actually drawing inspiration from. Somehow, I had felt Shaun Of The Dead would be much the same way. However, I found it to be quite the opposite. The reason for this is that it is a spoof that you can somehow actually take seriously.

In a way, Shaun Of The Dead is a very serious and personal film about man who doesn't know what to do with his life. On the other hand, it's a zombie movie spoof, in no way short on blood, gore, and intense dark humor. (Since when would you laugh at someone turning into a zombie and trying to eat people? That was a first for me.) These two elements contrast excellently and the result is a storyline bursting with energy as we watch a group of peculiar yet believable characters fight for survival in a zombie infested suburb.

The movie's first act is mesmerizing, as it shows us what Shaun's life is like day to day, while all the while we see things going on in the background: hints and clues leading up to what will be the beginning of the real story for Shaun. Once this movie really takes off, brace yourself. Things get more and more intense until the final act, when the characters become oppressed both physically and emotionally in an almost heart-wrenching series of events that leave you breathless. Whereas most spoofs seem to belittle stuff, anyone who's seen Shaun Of The Dead knows that zombie films are awesome.

8 out of 10

9 Trailer

This is a movie I'm actually quite looking forward to, though in a somewhat wary way. After all, though Tim Burton's influence is pretty apparent, it also looks as if it's advertising itself as an action film, and I didn't witness anything particularly great in terms of that in this trailer. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Movie Journal: The Phantom Of The Opera

How many movies have you seen in your lifetime that have actually moved you? Sure in Live Free Or Die Hard everyone in the theater gasps as our hero John McClane struggles not fall down an elevator shaft. We've all experienced that: the wave of emotion. Millions of people on the edge of their theater seats, all experiencing the exact same thing. Where else does that happen but in entertainment? Some emotions are more powerful than others, and go deeper. Some emotions can rock you to the core. And that is what the classic tale The Phantom Of The Opera does for those willing to let it.

The sensation that it delivers is one of what I like to call "epic romance". I'm not talking about those "romantic comedies" that guys so often prefer to epic romance, "because they are funny." So often are romantic comedies merely chick flicks. They belittle love in a way, because they communicate that love is humorous, and whimsical. Epic romance differs. Epic romance conveys that love is a very serious matter. Love is something that lasts for all eternity, and beyond.

Movies are about emotion. True epic romance does not fall back onto exotic and erotic sex scenes in order to gain our interest, because that would be very near redundant; though so many Hollywood filmmakers think otherwise. Sex is not emotion. Sex is sensation. Pure, unadulterated emotion is what true epic romance delivers, and does not hold back. It's so powerful because it reminds us that it is better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all, because love is not a means to the end of happiness. Love is a means to the end of love, and all it stands for. It's something every individual pursues, and is never satisfied without, because they know their essence, their being, yearns for it, and will die without it.

So epic romance voices endlessly, and so the film The Phantom Of The Opera has taught me. It is one of the only movies that has ever actually moved me to the core, and despite some of it's few flaws it will continue to be a great story for generations to come, because it is the epitome of epic romance. Not only is it perfectly cast and breathtakingly well played, it's concoction of vibrantly empathetic characters and the impacting emotion of opera are a lethal combination that you will not be prepared for. I wasn't.

9 out of 10

Quantum Of Solace Review

May contain slight spoilers concerning the movie Casino Royale.

I love James Bond. I love the characters(especially the villains), I love the action, I love the plot twists and turns, and I love how the franchise just never gets old from generation to generation. But by the time the credits roll, it's rather hard to love Quantum Of Solace.

It's a shame really, because Quantum Of Solace got so many things right. It blew you away with breathtaking, edge-of-your-seat action. It grabbed your attention with intoxicating and genuinely interesting female characters who you actually cared about. It knew how to build suspense. The pacing was masterful at times. Where it really messed up was the part about a meaningful plot, which is something it appeared to work so hard for.

Casino Royale changed James Bond forever, because the films always ended with our hero, Bond, holding a lady in his arms and enjoying the payoff of all his work. Casino Royale did end end with James Bond holding a lady in his arms. However, James Bond was sobbing and the woman was dead. It was a powerful ending that lent so much new depth to the character we know to be James Bond.

Quantum Of Solace had a heck of a lot to live up to. It should have brought something new forward, more great and powerful and impacting than what Casino Royale did, or at least just as much so but in a different manner. Is that not what we expect from a sequel? Instead, Quantum monopolizes on Casino Royale's storyline by integrating a sappy subplot that, while easy to relate to if you've seen Casino Royale, doesn't go anywhere we haven't been to before a dozen times over. For the majority of the movie we watch Bond mourn the woman's death from Casino Royale, the culmination of this subplot being an all-around terrible ending that not only(to once again make use of the word) monopolizes on Casino Royale's success but also at the same time invalidates it's meaning as a movie. And seeing as the whole point of a movie so often happens to be it's meaning and the successful expression of it, it's a crime I find very hard to forgive.

7 out of 10